Travel in the Time of Public Transit: USA Edition

I’ve said it many, many times, and I will say it again. I love trains. It is by far my favorite way to travel. Outside of the United States, railroad are accessible, convenient and affordable. Even the longest train ride in Malaysia (12 hours!) was an experience in meeting the locals, eating cheap food and watching the landscape unfold.

I love trains.

And so does Alfred Twu, who came up with this awesome plan for the future of America’s rail lines. I want this to be real 50 years ago. Seriously, how do we not have high-speed rail here?

Look at this map!

US High-Speed Rail System by Alfred Twu

US High-Speed Rail System by Alfred Twu

It’s purty!

We need this!

Sign the White House petition here. And let’s hear from the White House why train travel in the US can’t be more affordable, accessible and convenient. Our infrastructure is failing. Didn’t Obama just say in the State of the Union Address we have “70,000 structurally deficient bridges?” Why not make trains? Please!

It is possible, we just need to make it happen. Someday we’ll be able to go from New York to LA in two days! Without flying! And we could go to Canada! No more long road trips and motion sickness! How awesome!

Cheers to the Daily What for showcasing Twu’s map as a beautiful pipe dream. For more information about Twu and high-speed rail in America, Slate has a nice article about liberal’s dreams for public transit.


This is where I’m supposed to be

I voted today.

It was nice. Feeling like a citizen is not an emotion I bask in often.

In the frenzied last-minute swirl of political discourse happening today, I’m damn proud to be an American. (We’ll see how I’m feeling once the results are in.) I love seeing most people, who disagree about politics, agreeing voting is important.

I loved the quick walk to the polling place where I met a few of my neighbors for the first time. I loved that one of those neighbors was comfortable enough to tell me about her Oxycotin addiction. (Such classy broads in the neighborhood!) I loved the father and son who proudly voted together, even though they voted differently. I loved that there was no line, just a queue of people going  about their day who took a few minutes to chat, vote and be citizens in their community.

Voting made feel connected.

It’s astonishing to realize that less than 100 years ago, I couldn’t have voted. It’s more surprising to me that I didn’t vote four years ago. But now that I’ve popped that political cherry, it’s awesome.

Utah independents and democrats, get out there. I know it feels like you’re throwing a paper airplane into  gale force winds. It might not feel like your voice is being heard, surrounded as we are by red-blooded conservatives. But at least, you’ll have the knowledge you did what you could to elect officials who most closely resemble you. Vote!

(Please help my pipe dream of Utah voting blue come true.)

Don’t forget, there are local elections. Salt Lake County Mayor, House Representatives and the State Governor are on the ballot, too.  Honestly I was more excited for those votes than the President because Utah can be a better place. And I can make more of a change in a small pond than an ocean, and so can you.

The lines are short. Voting is painless. And you’ll feel good.

P.S. I totally dressed to match my “I voted” sticker. Yes!

If we can vote, hopefully we can trust the system to work. There is some bad news out there, voters ballots in Ohio are unlikely to be counted. Voting machines in Pennsylvania are flipping votes. Something weird is happening in New Jersey. And David Sedaris has something to say to undecided voters. If you still think your vote doesn’t count, read this Cracked article. (It’s funny and informative!)

Are Socks Underwear?

Why Comedians Pretend They Aren’t Pretty: This fantastic piece in The Atlantic discusses how and why Phyllis Diller, Tina Fey and other women comedians pretend to be ugly, uncoordinated and unsuccessful to get laughs.

Breaking Amish: It’s another article in The Atlantic, I love it. But I also love TV, and am intrigued by TLC’s new show, “Breaking Amish,” which follows a few teens on rumspringer from various Amish communities around the country. I’m fascinated by the intersection of religion and pop culture. But is it right to film this experience? Do the kids understand what they signed up for? As the article points out most of them have never been photographed before.

Air Conditioning Makes Me Unproductive: I get cold easily, and I hate being inside in the summer because other people love to make it cold. I always carry a jacket, even on the hottest days. As this FastCompany article, tells it, the cold also makes people make more mistakes and less productive. Also this totally explains why I love beaches.

Finally the best political video you will see all week. Promise.

Obama’s “You didn’t build that” set to M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”

Pure awesome.

Now away from the link shares and onto the socks question because that’s what I do around here ask seriously hard life questions, like are socks underwear?

I’m being serious. And it’s for science.

Not really for science.

But really serious.

Recently I had a sleep over and my friend sleeps with socks on. I thought this was hilariously bizarre. He says socks are like underwear, so it makes sense to wear them to bed.

I kind of agree with the whole wearing undies to bed bit. I mean I do, I’m a t-shirt and panties kind of girl most days. And my experience is most men and women wear some kind of something to bed, although loads of people sleep naked. But most people don’t sleep with socks on, right? I mean, do you?

I think of socks kind of like an undershirt. Typically in the winter time I wear a tank, a t and a jacket. It’s also the time of year I wear socks and shoes. (I have a preference for sundress and flip flops whenever possible.) An undershirt to me is not underwear, nor are socks so it’s highly unlikely I would wear them to bed regularly.

However if I change the way I fundamentally think about socks, then I could maybe agree with wearing them to bed.

So what do you think are socks underwear? Do you wear socks with your pj’s?

So far everyone on the internet (two men) say yes, socks are underwear. But does that make them sleeping clothes?

BTW: I’m writing this barefoot in my pajamas–shorts and t-shirt sans underwear. Maybe I have a fundmental dislike of all underclothes.

A Bit Of Reading For The Week

It’s been that kind of news week that just makes me want to find every adorable puppy video on the internet ever and watch them while I devour a pint of ice cream. So if anyone starts to wonder why I’m a bit mopey, here’s what I’ve been reading.

An excerpt from “Days of Destruction; Days of Revolt” by Chris Hedges with illustrations by Joe Sacco on TomDispatch. After reading this selection, the book is on my to-read list. It is an eye-opening description of life in rural West Virginia.

Eve Ensler’s letter to Missouri’s Rep. Todd Akin after he said, “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. [Pregnancy after rape] If it’s a legitimate rape a female’s body has ways to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.” Video here.

Pat Bagley’s cartoon “GOP Spawn” that incited someone enough for them to call him a “liberal.” Makes me think they’ve never read his book, “Pat and Kirby Go To Hell.” Am I the only person still impressed Bagley is making a living as a cartoonist at a newspaper? (It is indeed remarkable.)

Found via Slate’s Longform’s Guide to Takedowns, is this Vanity Fair article on the mess that is Microsoft, how a company that was once king of cool (Remember Windows 95?) is now destroying itself from the inside.

The New Yorker’s report on Obama’s seeming inability to raise money in this campaign. Fascinating. Also this is the first time I understood the Citizen United ruling, ever. An interesting report on just how complicated it is to raise money and be president–two different jobs that don’t seem to often share interests for the man trying to accomplish both.

Hey, we could use something happy now.

Lennon and Maisy Stella, who are 12 and 8, singing with tremendous talent and skill. They are so great, love them!

Now for this last story, it isn’t sad, it isn’t heartbreaking, it’s a story about hobos  on BuzzFeed. I hesitate to include it on this list because I generally like to include stories that are not only meaningful, but also well-crafted. However this story is just weird enough to make the list. It’s a fascinating idea and provides some explanation for all those kids I’ve seen playing guitar and asking for money on the street lately.